Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 27th 2013 Contents B3
STORY & PHOTOS: MARSHA
Lisa O Connor gives attention to
two ever-shifting elements in her
latest exhibition Light and Time.
She points to her consciousness of
the ways in which the qualities of
light---its colour temperature and
intensity---change over time.
"The light is never going to stand
still for you," said O Connor in a
recent interview with the Sunday
Arts Section. "It will only stand still
in a photograph and that is a step
removed from the environment."
O Connor has been painting en
plein air---that is, on location in the
open air---for over 20 years. "When
you paint on location, it is the best
situation for capturing the light. You
are immersed in the glare," she
O Connor, born in Jamaica,
moved to T&T at a young age. She
later earned a diploma in fine arts
at the Art Institute of Boston and a
BFA from the Massachusetts College
She has exhibited her work both
regionally and internationally and is
known for her signature use of oils in
the impasto technique. Her images of
architectural details, landscapes and
seascapes are rendered in paint that
has been applied very thickly to the
canvas so that her art hovers between
two-dimensional and sculptural states.
The artist has been captivated by
light since her studies in the US, and
she draws inspiration from the French
impressionists, who painted outdoors,
working quickly to capture the fleeting
"I was always struck by Monet s
use of light. I like the way a subject
matter can be done again and again
at different times of the day. My work
is more structured with some impres-
sionism," she said.
With her new paintings, she
presents an array of moods created
by her portrayal of the personality
of the light arrested at specific
times. Pieces include a sunlit image
of a gingerbread house, evening
over the Savannah, the radiance of
poui trees in full bloom and a view
of the beach under the shade at
Pigeon Point, Tobago.
Her painting process involves
starting with the highlights and the
shadows or dark areas, those
extremes of light s presence and
absence that change quickly. She
then works on what she calls the
areas that "change less." Painting
such areas often requires a com-
bination of returning to the subject
on several occasions and using cre-
"Once I have started a work, I
usually go back at the same time.
Sometimes, however, when you go
back and go back it gets a little bit
stiff. You lose the spontaneity. For
the areas that change less with the
light, I sometimes use total improv-
isation and memory of what the
subject looks like. You have to use
your creativity. It is about making
it your own," she says.
"You can add something even if
it is not exactly how the subject is,
but usually the darkest dark is bor-
dered by the brightest bright and
a colour will be bordered by its con-
trast. So a purple might be at the
edge of a yellow, for example," she
Darker colours absorb more vis-
ible light, so she avoids using dark
hues from the paint tube. Instead
she mixes her pigments to get
"I don t use any ochres. I might
mix yellow, red, white and green
to give the appearance of ochre
without killing the light. For paint-
ing brown tree branches I mix
alizarin crimson, permanent violet
and a little yellow and blue," she
The exhibition is also a study of
the specificity of light in the tropics.
O Connor noted the difference
in the light in this part of the world.
"With Caribbean light, the contrast
is much greater. I have done paint-
ings in Europe and the light is more
diffuse---it is not direct."
Ultimately, what shines through
in her new body of work is the
pleasure and ease with which she
approaches her creative practice.
"Your joy should come out in the
work. If you are not comfortable it
will show. The work will feel forced."
Light and Time opens tomorrow
Gallery, 26 Taylor Street, Wood-
brook. The exhibition runs until
• More info: 628-4165 or e-mail:
Lisa O'Connor shows Light and Time
Visual artist Lisa O'Connor.
Poui in Jackson Square, by Lisa O'Connor.
Ska, rock and
legacy ---Page B4
to the bone
docs for Green
Screen ---Page B46
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